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England sink France while Wales are up for the slam

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13th March, 2021
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A late Maro Itoje try has secured England a 23-20 victory over France in a Six Nations Championship match full of high-speed, enterprising rugby at Twickenham that leaves the championship open.

But Wales are still in pole position to win the title – and a grand slam – after crushing Italy 48-7 earlier on Saturday with a seven-try demolition job.

At Twickenham, England were trailing by four points heading towards fulltime but Itoje bundled over from a maul and was awarded the try by the TMO after the referee had initially ruled that it had been held up.

The first half was a wonderful display of high-skilled rugby with both sides committed to running the ball and keeping it alive.

France opened the scoring after two minutes with an Antoine Dupont try but England hit back with Anthony Watson’s fourth of the championship.

They then edged clear with Owen Farrell penalties before France fashioned a wonderful try for Damian Penaud to lead 17-13 at the break.

The second half was a tighter affair with a penalty apiece keeping it a four-point gap going into the final 25 minutes. 

But just as France seemed set for their first championship win at Twickenham since 2005, England found a way over, with Farrell also landing the awkward conversion.

The result was ideal for Wales, who now top the standings on 19 points and will be crowned champions with a grand slam should they triumph in Paris next week, regardless of what France do if and when they play their rearranged game against Scotland.

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France and England have ten points while Ireland, who visit Scotland on Sunday, have seven, with the Scots on five.

New Zealander Wayne Pivac’s Welsh side, fresh from sealing the triple crown against England, made short work of the error-plagued Azzurri in the Stadio Olimpico.

Tries from Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau and two from hooker Ken Owens ensured that the bonus point was wrapped up inside 30 minutes.

George North, substitute Callum Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit then dotted down to compound the hosts’ misery in the second half, with Australian-born Monty Ioane’s try providing their only consolation.

Rees-Zammit’s 70-metre interception effort was the Gloucester speedster’s fifth touchdown in just his eighth Test.

Italy, who suffered their 31st consecutive Six Nations defeat, are in a familiar position, rooted to the bottom of the table with zero points, having conceded 187 points in their four defeats so far. 

© AAP

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